The Golden Edge Nelson Rowing Club caters for school, club and masters members and has a current masters membership of around 60.

Nelson regularly boats over 30 on Sunday mornings, and this year has a team of 22 training for South Island Masters Regatta at Lake Waihola.

Masters rowers have been busy this autumn, with a ‘fungatta’ on 30 April, a memorial row across Tasman Bay on 7 May, a masters camp on 14–15 May, and the South Island Masters Regatta in early June.

Fungatta

The fungatta was the brainchild of NRC member Tim Rogers. There were two goals – first to encourage masters to increase their confidence in small-boat rowing over a series of ‘small-boat Saturdays’, and second, to celebrate their new skills with a fun regatta of doubles.

Crews were selected to mix up new rowers with those who have been around the sport a little longer, and many took the opportunity to row some practice sessions, ably coached by Roger Watts.

The regatta was run over a 500m course on the Maitai River. On race day, 12 crews of two raced in a round-robin format, with high- quality (but friendly!) competition, plenty of banter, and some very close finishes. ‘We encouraged everyone to wear costumes, which had the potential to earn them time bonuses, and kept the emphasis on the fun,’ commented Rogers. ‘I was delighted that every person who entered actually turned up on race day, and that every one of them was sporting some kind of a costume.’

‘This was great fun,’ said Jo, who took up rowing last spring. ‘I was nervous about rowing in small boats, but the fungatta concept made it clear the emphasis was on fun, and mixing up the crews was awesome. Now I’m much more willing to row in small boats.’

Myles Sellers was involved with Nelson Rowing Club over many years, and club members were deeply saddened by his sudden passing in 2021.

Myles was always cheerful, positive and upbeat, and well known for his use of words like ‘magnificent’ and ‘outstanding’.

Myles was the great-nephew of Darcy Hadfield, NZ’s first-ever Olympic medallist, who won the bronze medal in the single sculls at the 1920 Olympics. Prior to that, New Zealanders had competed as Australasians. Darcy grew up at Awaroa, in what is now Abel Tasman National Park. ‘When Darcy was a schoolboy growing up at Awaroa, he would often row a 14ft [4.2m] clinker dinghy across 35 miles [56km] of Tasman Bay for a day out in Nelson, sparking the idea for the memorial row,’ said Grant Wilson, NRC president and organiser of the memorial row.

In 2021 a plan was developed: the club would row coastal quads from Awaroa to Nelson in honour of these two rowing stalwarts. Evolving a good idea into a good event can be challenging, but thanks to a huge amount of planning by Wilson it was very successful. A small group rowed two quads from Kaiteriteri to Awaroa on 6 May, while others arrived by water taxi and launch. The group stayed at Meadowbank Homestead, the Wilsons’ Abel Tasman Lodge at Awaroa, and shared stories and memories of Myles while learning more from Darryl Wilson, CEO of Wilsons’ Abel Tasman, about Darcy and the Hadfield family history.

The crews were all on Awaroa beach at dawn on 7 May as a perfect autumn day began. The two quads followed the coastline for around 70km, all the way back to Nelson Rowing Club, with regular beach stops for crew changes. Two support boats followed along with the extra club members on board.

The group were delighted to have a huge pod of dolphins playing around the water taxi as it arrived at Awaroa on Friday afternoon, and again around the support boats as they left Awaroa on Saturday. To see dolphins again as the boats arrived back in Nelson late in the afternoon was truly extraordinary.

Club members were joined by some of Myles’ family, with his wife Margarette and brother Andrew joining quad crews for the last leg of the journey. Jack Collin, life member of Nelson Rowing Club, came from Westport for the event and enjoyed riding along in the support launch watching the rowing. Collin was Myles’ first coach in the 1980s, and his sharp memory for a rowing crew revealed a few more details to add to the legend!

Nelson Rowing Club is planning more events in the region, including a learn-to-row course in the spring for which there is already a significant level of interest.